The Whistleblower Act, enacted by the Washington State Legislature in 1982 and codified in RCW Chapter 42.40, provides an avenue for state employees to report suspected improper governmental action. This act is intended to help maintain accountability and integrity in state government. This chapter contains the College’s Whistleblower policies, in accordance with directives from the State Auditor.
The definitions of relevant terms in RCW 42.40.020 control, but generally speaking:
Improper governmental action does not include personnel actions, for which other remedies exist, including but not limited to employee grievances, complaints, appointments, promotions, transfers, assignments, reassignments, reinstatements, restorations, reemployments, performance evaluations, reductions in pay, dismissals, suspensions, demotions, violations of the state civil service law, alleged labor agreement violations, reprimands, claims of discriminatory treatment, or any action which may be taken under Chapter 41.06 RCW, or other disciplinary action except as provided in RCW 42.40.030.
B. Good faith means that the individual providing the information or report of improper governmental activity has a reasonable basis in fact for reporting or providing the information. An individual who knowingly provides or reports, or who reasonably ought to know he or she is providing or reporting, malicious, false, or frivolous information, or information that is provided with reckless disregard for the truth, or who knowingly omits relevant information is not acting in good faith.
C. Gross mismanagement means the exercise of management responsibilities in a manner grossly deviating from the standard of care or competence that a reasonable person would observe in the same situation.
D. Gross waste of funds means to spend or use funds or to allow funds to be used without valuable result in a manner grossly deviating from the standard of care or competence that a reasonable person would observe in the same situation.
E. Public Official means the attorney general’s designee or designees; the director or equivalent thereof in the agency where the employee works; an appropriate number of individuals designated to receive whistleblower reports by the head of each agency; or the Executive Ethics Board.
F. Whistleblower means:
An employee who in good faith reports alleged improper governmental action to the auditor or other public official, initiating an investigation by the auditor; or
An employee who is perceived by the employer as reporting, whether they did or not, alleged improper governmental action to the auditor or other public official, initiating an investigation by the auditor.
Any current Washington State employee may report a suspected improper governmental action through the Whistleblower Program.
Reports may be made:
Facsimile: (360) 586-3519
C. When to report: For an improper governmental action to be investigated by the State Auditor’s Office, it must be provided to the Auditor or other public official within one year after occurrence of the action, under RCW 42.40.040(1)(a).
Whistleblower assertions may be submitted anonymously.
Whistleblowers should use the State Auditor’s Office Whistleblower form at: https://www.sao.wa.gov/EN/Investigations/Whistleblower/Pages/Whistleblower.as px
Whistleblowers are expected to act in good faith, which means that they cannot knowingly report false, malicious or frivolous information, recklessly disregard the truth or omit relevant information. A reporting employee must make a reasonable attempt to ascertain the correctness of the information furnished and may be subject to disciplinary action by the college for knowingly furnishing false information, under RCW 42.40.035.
The identity and identifying characteristics of a whistleblower shall be kept confidential unless the Auditor determines that the information has been provided other than in good faith, under RCW 42.40.040(5)(c).
College employees must fully cooperate in any Auditor investigations, and shall not destroy any of the evidence during the course of the investigation.
College employees shall not retaliate against any whistleblower or perceived whistleblower, or against any witness who provides information during an investigation or who is perceived to be a witness.
If you feel you are being retaliated against as a result of filing an assertion or providing information during an investigation, or because you are believed to have filed a whistleblower report or provided information, you may file a claim with the Washington State Human Rights Commission at www.hum.wa.gov. See http://www.hum.wa.gov/Whistleblower/Index.html
The College will notify each employee annually of the Whistleblower Act.